Evangelical Christian organizations that hold to a complementarian view of gender roles, such as The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), have expressed concern over a possible connection between an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles and homosexuality. For example, in the list of central concerns stated in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood-perhaps the most thorough defense of complementarianism-the authors declare, "We are concerned not merely with the behavior roles of men and women, but also with the underlying nature of manhood and womanhood themselves. Biblical truth and clarity in this matter are important because errors and confusion over sexual identity leads to … homosexual tendencies and increasing attempts to justify homosexual alliances."1 Furthermore, later in this same list of central concerns, the editors of this book note, "We believe that the feminist minimization of sexual role differentiation contributes to the confusion of sexual identity that, especially in the second and third generations, gives rise to more homosexuality in society… . It is increasingly and painfully clear that Biblical feminism is an unwitting partner in unraveling the fabric of complementary manhood and womanhood that provides the foundation not only for Biblical marriage and Biblical church order, but also for heterosexuality itself."2
Evangelical feminists,3 however, have asserted that the notion of a possible connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is both an unwarranted concern and an unfair allegation.4 For example, Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), arguably the leading evangelical egalitarian advocacy organization, has repeatedly noted that they do not affirm homosexuality, and the CBE Statement of Faith clearly states, "We believe in the family, celibate singleness, and faithful heterosexual marriage as the patterns God designed for us."5 Additionally, several prominent evangelical egalitarians have written works that report their opposition to homosexuality.6 Indeed, the fact that egalitarian organizations such as CBE do not directly affirm homosexuality has been recognized by a number of complementarian authors;7 yet, a concern that evangelical feminism ultimately leads to the embrace of homosexuality still persists among those who champion a more traditional model of gender roles.
In view of the foregoing discussion regarding the possibility of a connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality, this work will address and attempt to answer a very important question in the gender roles debate-that is, "Is there sufficient historical evidence to support complementarians' concern over a possible connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality?" If this concern is warranted, the final part of this essay will begin some introductory work with a view to a second important question-that is, "What is the nature of the link between these two ostensibly unrelated ideologies?"
While both complementarians and evangelical feminists recognize that an egalitarian view of gender roles does not constitute a de facto endorsement of homosexuality, a review of the historical record reveals that some Christian organizations that have initially adopted the tenets of evangelical feminism have later moved on to embrace homosexuality.8 This shift can be documented by a study of the doctrines espoused (or at least tolerated) by a number of parachurch groups and Christian denominations.9
Perhaps the most striking example of a parachurch organization drifting from a focus upon women's rights to the endorsement of homosexuality is the group out of which CBE was formed-that is, the association currently known as the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus (EEWC).10 As the EEWC website reports:
In 1973, a group of socially concerned Christians, later known as Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), met in Chicago and drafted the Chicago Declaration as the basis for their organization. Among the participants were a few women who were concerned about the inferior status of women in Church and society and who called upon the group to consider issues related to sexism from a Christian perspective.
At ESA's second consultation in 1974 the women's caucus was one of six task forces formed by participants to study such concerns as racism, sexism, peace, and simpler lifestyles. Thus our group was born as the Evangelical Women's Caucus (EWC). The EWC presented proposals to Evangelicals for Social Action on a variety of topics including endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment, support for inclusive language in Bible translation and Christian publications, affirmation of the ordination of women, and criticism of discriminatory hiring policies in Christian institutions.11
The EWC, then, became an autonomous organization in 1975 (with loose ties to ESA) and continued in the late 1970s and early 1980s to promote women's rights both within the Church and in society at large.
At their annual conference in Fresno, California, in July of 1986, however, the EWC underwent a factious transformation as the majority of voting attendees determined to broaden the scope of the EWC's ministry. At this meeting a group within the EWC known as "Lesbians and Friends" brought the following resolution before the organization: "Whereas homosexual people are children of God, and because of the biblical mandate of Jesus Christ that we are all created equal in God's sight, and in recognition of the presence of the lesbian minority in the Evangelical Women's Caucus International, EWCI takes a firm stand in favor of civil rights protection for homosexual persons."12 Although the number of lesbians in the EWC was estimated to be fewer than thirty women (less than 5 percent of the total membership), this resolution passed by an overwhelming majority with a vote of 80 in favor, 16 opposed, and 23 abstaining.13 As a consequence of this vote, which was widely interpreted as an endorsement of homosexuality and was later described by one EWC leader as "a step of maturity within the organization,"14 a number of individuals withdrew their membership from the EWC and began discussions regarding the formation of a new evangelical organization to advocate an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles.
A new association, made up largely of the dissenting members of the Minnesota chapter of the EWC, was formed in 1987 that called themselves Men, Women and God: Christians for Biblical Equality. This group was loosely tied to Men, Women and God, International, an organization affiliated with John Stott's London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. The members of this new parachurch ministry abbreviated their name in 1988 to Christians for Biblical Equality, and the group continues as such to the present day. As has already been noted and must be reemphasized, CBE does not affirm homosexuality. The CBE Statement of Faith declares the organization's belief in faithful heterosexual marriage and, presumably in reference to homosexuality, "The History of CBE" section of the group's website reports that CBE was formed when the "EWC was moving in a direction these members [i.e., the founding members of CBE] perceived as unbiblical."15
If the EWC was the only Christian organization to begin with an emphasis on women's rights but to end up tolerating homosexuality, the preceding events could probably be viewed as inconsequential. A review of the shifting doctrinal beliefs of a number of the mainline Protestant denominations, however, reveals that more than one Christian group has followed the same path as that of the EWC-that is, to begin by adopting an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles, but to end up by endorsing homosexuality.
While more than ten Presbyterian denominations are included in its ecclesiastical heritage, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was officially formed when the two largest Presbyterian bodies-the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA)-reunited on June 10, 1983, after 122 years of separation. The denomination born out of this merger, the PC(USA), is currently the ninth largest Christian denomination in the world with just under 3.5 million members.16
Although an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles was manifest as early as the 1920s and 1930s in several of the smaller predecessor denominations to the PC(USA)-evidenced by the ordination of women deacons and elders-it was not until the late 1950s and 1960s that feminism became firmly entrenched in the two main groups that came together to form the PC(USA).17 Women were first ordained into the ministry in one of the precursor denominations of the UPCUSA in 1956 and in the PCUS in 1965.18 As of 2001, nearly 19 percent of the PC(USA) clergy was female, with a trend showing women outpacing men in ordination.19 Additionally, an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles can be seen in the PC(USA) in the activities of the Woman's Ministries Program Area of the denomination, which is made up of several independent organizations that work in concert to promote women's rights both within the Presbyterian Church and within general society.20
Historically speaking, the PC(USA) and its two main predecessor denominations have always been officially opposed to homosexuality. The Heidelberg Catechism, which clearly views homosexuality as sinful, is included in the Book of Confessions, which is part of the Constitution of the PC(USA).21 Additionally, over the years a number of Presbyterian General Assemblies have made rulings and issued policy statements reflecting general denominational opposition to homosexuality. For example, General Assembly rulings and statements include remarks such as, "Homosexuality is a sin;"22 "Homosexuality … seems to be contrary to the teaching of Scripture;"23 "[Individual congregations] should not allow the use of the church facilities for a same-sex union ceremony;"24 "It would not be proper for a minister of the Word and Sacrament to perform a same-sex union ceremony;"25 "It would at the present time be injudicious, if not improper, for a presbytery to ordain to the professional ministry of the gospel a person who is an avowed practicing homosexual;"26 and "Practicing homosexual persons may not be ordained as ministers of the Word and Sacrament, elders, or deacons [in the PC(USA)]."27 In spite of this seemingly clear historical stance against homosexuality, there is currently a growing movement within the PC(USA) to accept homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle and to grant practicing homosexuals the rights of marriage and ordination in the denomination.
A softening of the traditional Presbyterian position on homosexuality can first be detected in the records of the 1978 General Assembly of the UPCUSA. At this Assembly, after stating their desire for continued dialog regarding the issue of homosexuality, this ecclesiastical body went on to declare, "The church must [begin] … to move toward the homosexual community in love and to welcome homosexual inquirers to its congregations."28 Again, in 1987 a weakening of the denomination's historical stance is evident as the Presbyterian General Assembly called "for the elimination … of [civil] laws governing the private sexual behavior between consenting adults [and the passage] of laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation."29 In the late twentieth century statements such as these, along with a growing tolerance of homosexuality among the PC(USA) hierarchy, clergy, and members,30 sparked the formation of at least two homosexual advocacy organizations within the denomination that are currently working to remove what they perceive to be any constrictive or repressive references to homosexuality in the PC(USA) constitution.31
While the gradual embrace of homosexuality within the PC(USA) is an interesting subject in and of itself,32 the aspect of the PC(USA)'s slide toward homosexuality that is most significant for this present study is the methodology being employed by the progressive elements of the denomination. It is interesting to note that in order to achieve their objectives, the homosexual advocacy organizations within the PC(USA) are working, in large part, with and through the Women's Ministries Program Area of the denomination. It is apparent that just as with the EWC, a number of those affiliated with the women's ministry organizations of the PC(USA) are gradually moving from a specific egalitarian view of male/female gender roles to a general egalitarian view of human sexuality.
Several examples that illustrate this trend may be cited; first, in 1998 it was reported that the women's college ministry arm of the PC(USA)-the National Network of Presbyterian College Women-was producing resources that promote lesbianism as an acceptable Christian lifestyle;33 second, in 1999 the Women's Ministries Program Area of the PC(USA) selected a lesbian minister who is employed as a full-time homosexual lobbyist to receive the denomination's prestigious annual Women of Faith award;34 and third, over the past few years a number of individuals affiliated with the PC(USA) Women's Ministries Program Area have made arguments equating the women's-rights movement with the gay-rights movement-both within the denomination and within society at large.
For example, Joanne Sizoo, the current chair of the PC(USA) Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns (and formerly an officer with More Light Presbyterians, the most vocal of the denomination's homosexual advocacy groups) remarked, "I believe that part of [the] homophobia [within the PC(USA)] is based in our reluctance to talk about all things sexual and all things physical and that's been historically related to the church's fear of women."35 Similarly, in an interview regarding the increasingly inclusivistic policies of the PC(USA), Marco Grimaldo, a female elder at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., claimed, "Advocacy for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is a civil rights issue… . I was personally involved in the civil rights movement, in women's rights, all the people who were struggling. It seems to me just another part of that particular mind-set."36 Likewise, theologian Jack Rogers, elected the Moderator of the PC(USA) in 2001, asserted, "I believe if we read the Bible in the same way we learned to read it in order to accept the equality of … women, we will be forced to the conclusion that gay and lesbian people are also to be accepted as equal."37 Moreover, in a similar manner, in his book on the need for homosexual equality within the PC(USA), Bruce Hahne, a self-described social change consultant and member of the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, California, wrote,
When we examine the history of the U.S. civil rights movement for parallels [to the gay rights movement], we find that the current status of the PC(USA)'s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement strongly resembles the state of the civil rights movement… . The current status of the PC(USA)'s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality movement matches not only the specific historical case of the U.S. civil rights movement … it also matches extremely well with the theoretical framework for [other] progressive social movements… . If we substitute "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people" for "women" [in an argument related to women's rights] … and recall the strong ideological links between sexism and heterosexism, then the parallels to the current dehumanizing climate in the PC(USA), and most other oldline Christian denominations, should become evident.38
A final example of the connecting of women's-rights with gay-rights within the PC(USA) comes from the pen of Sylvia Thorson-Smith, an active participant in several of the denomination's women's ministry groups and a former member of the Presbyterian Special Committee on Human Sexuality. In an article that Thorson-Smith wrote lamenting the conservative tone and content of a 1991 PC(USA) report on human sexuality, she equated her own efforts at getting the PC(USA) to embrace homosexuality with those of one of the pioneers of the women's-rights movement, Susan B. Anthony. In her article Thorson-Smith wrote, "[Our] strategies to change the church's position on even considering lesbians and gay men as eligible for ordination will proceed … . In all of this, I am sustained by the unshakable conviction of Susan B. Anthony, who gave her entire life in the struggle for women's suffrage, never lived to see it, and still knew it would someday prevail because ‘Failure is Impossible.'"39
Clearly, then, the above materials seem to indicate that the PC(USA) is slowly moving in a direction that is resulting in the gradual embrace of homosexuality within the denomination.40 It appears that in a similar manner to that of the EWC, then, some of the members of the PC(USA)-especially those affiliated with the feminist-leaning Women's Ministry Program Area-are drifting from an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles to the endorsement (or at least toleration) of homosexuality.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the sixth largest Christian denomination in the world, with just under 5.1 million members.41 Although the Lutheran Church has been in North America since the early part of the seventeenth century, the ELCA was not officially formed until January 4, 1988, when three of the most prominent national Lutheran bodies-the American Lutheran Church (ALC), the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC)-merged to form what is currently the largest of all of the Lutheran denominations in the United States.
In conjunction with the rise of secular feminism, all three of the predecessor denominations to the ELCA adopted an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles in the mid to late twentieth century. This is evidenced in that both the ALC and the LCA began ordaining female pastors in 1970, and a desire for women's ordination was one of the key doctrinal issues that prompted a number of churches in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to abandon the denomination in 1976 and form the AELC, which ordained its first woman pastor in 1977.42 Naturally, the ALC, LCA, and AELC brought their egalitarian views to the ELCA when they came together to form the denomination in 1988. This is manifest in the qualifications for ordination set forth in the ELCA constitution, which makes no stipulations regarding gender.43 As of 2002, nearly 22 percent of the active clergy in the ELCA were women, with reports indicating that the percentage is growing on an annual basis.44 Additionally, the ELCA's feminist leanings can be documented in the activities of the church's two main women's ministry groups, the Commission for Women and the Women of the ELCA, both of whom are forthright about their endorsement of feminism and their efforts to preserve and promote an egalitarian view of gender relations within the denomination.45
Concerning social issues such as homosexuality, the ELCA governs itself through official social statements that are approved at and supported by the biennial Churchwide Assembly. The ELCA currently does not have a social statement of its own on homosexuality; rather, the denomination relies upon the official policies and decisions of its two largest predecessor church bodies, the LCA and the ALC-both of whom were cautiously opposed to homosexual acts, but deliberately receptive to homosexual persons.46 In spite of the ELCA's lack of an official social statement on homosexuality, a number of divisions within the church hierarchy-such as the Church Council, the Conference of Bishops, and the Division for Ministry-have written documents, made rulings, and issued informal statements on homosexuality. While such actions are not regarded as official policy of the ELCA (since they are not voted on by the Churchwide Assembly), they are nevertheless considered to be authoritative and routine polity for the denomination.
Nearly all of the proceedings of groups within the ELCA who have addressed issues related to homosexuality have reflected the tentative opposition first expressed in the policies of the predecessor denominations to the ELCA. Examples of actions taken by intra-denominational groups include statements such as, "Ordained ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships;"47 "Practicing homosexual persons are precluded from the ordained ministries of this church;"48 "[We] recognize that there is basis neither in Scripture nor [in] tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship… . Nevertheless, we express trust in and will continue dialogue with those pastors and congregations who are in ministry with gay and lesbian persons, and affirm their desire to explore the best ways to provide pastoral care for all to whom they minister;"49 and "We invite gay and lesbian persons to join together with other members of this church in mutual prayer and study of the issues that still divide us, so that we may seek the truth together."50 Clearly, then, the above statements, as well as other church actions,51 demonstrate that the historical position of the ELCA has been cautious opposition to homosexual acts, but openness to homosexual persons.
Despite the seemingly clear (albeit somewhat tenuous) stance of the ELCA against homosexuality, since the mid-1970s a number of groups affiliated with the denomination have been lobbying the ELCA to change its historical position on homosexuality and to produce a social statement of its own that affirms homosexual unions and ordination.52 Efforts by such groups have had a measurable effect upon the denomination as is evidenced by the growing number of ELCA pastors and pastoral candidates who profess to be homosexuals,53 by a handful of individual congregations who have ordained practicing homosexuals,54 and by the proposal of a social statement in 1993 that openly endorsed homosexuality. This twenty-one page statement, which took a seventeen-member ELCA committee four years to produce in draft form, called for "open affirmation of gay and lesbian persons and their mutually loving, just, committed relationship[s] of fidelity."55 Due to internal disagreements regarding the content of this proposed social statement, however, the ELCA was forced to abandon it, and the church remains without an official social statement of its own on homosexuality to the present day.56
As with the PC(USA), while the growing acceptance of homosexuality within the ELCA is an interesting study in itself,57 the methodology being employed by those in the denomination who favor the endorsement of homosexuality is the aspect of the subject that is most significant for this present project. Indeed, it is important to note, as did Lutheran Bishop R. L. DeJaynes, that within the ELCA it is the pro-feminist ministry areas "who most vocally support … the social/political agenda in the [Lutheran] Church… . They, as a whole, have been the greatest supporters of the homosexual agenda."58 Several examples of such support may be cited. First, in regard to the aforementioned proposed 1993 social statement endorsing homosexuality, it is interesting to note that even after it became apparent that the social statement was not going to be adopted by the church, the ELCA Commission for Women passed a resolution commending the statement, saying that it "addresses many [of the same] concerns of the Commission for Women with respect to the life of the Church and today's society."59 Second, in 2001 the ELCA Commission for Women passed a resolution supporting the denomination's Division for Outreach for its establishment of an official relationship with Lutherans Concerned/North America, the oldest and largest of the Lutheran homosexual advocacy organizations. Concerning this resolution, Janet M. Corpus, chairwoman of the ELCA Commission for Women steering committee, said, "We are committed to a thorough approach to address sexism in our church-sexism in the broadest sense, including sexism against women and girls, against people who are gay or lesbian, and including the ways in which sexism distorts boys' and men's lives."60 Third, in October of 2002 the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod sponsored a workshop at which Janelle Bussert, a professor of religion at Augsburg College, was the guest speaker. At this conference Bussert, a practicing lesbian, identified "some of the arguments in favor of the acceptance of same-gender [sexual] relationships," as "a Lutheran hermeneutic, [and the] historical analogy … [of] women's ordination."61
Clearly, then, activities such as those described above reveal that some within the ELCA are arguing for the endorsement of homosexuality by equating certain aspects of the women's rights movement with those of the homosexual rights movement.62 It seems evident that as with the EWC and the PC(USA), then, some members of the ELCA-particularly those involved in the denomination's two feminist-leaning women's ministry groups-are making a move from a specific egalitarian view of male/female gender roles to a general egalitarian view of human sexuality.
While the Methodist movement proper began in the first half of the eighteenth century in England under the preaching of John Wesley, the founding date of the North American Methodist Church is usually regarded to be 1784-the year in which the first American Methodist bishop, Francis Asbury, was elected to lead the growing Methodist movement in the United States. The denomination known as the United Methodist Church (UMC), however, was not formed until April 23, 1968, when the two historical streams of American Methodism, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, came together to form what is currently the largest Methodist denomination in the world and the third largest Christian church in North America with just over 8.3 million members.63
As has been noted by a number of other authors,64 feminism-or at least feminist-type ideas-have a long history within the broad scope of the Methodist movement. Indeed, egalitarian leanings can be detected in many of the predecessor denominations to the UMC as is evidenced by their inclination to license and ordain female leadership. For example, the United Brethren Church began licensing women to preach in 1849, the Methodist Protestant Church started ordaining deaconesses in 1866, the Methodist Episcopal Church began licensing female evangelists in 1869, and the United Brethren Church began the practice of ordaining women into the pastorate in 1889.65 Given the history of this theological tradition, then, it is not surprising to note that when the UMC was formed in 1968, women were guaranteed ordination in the denomination's founding documents, and local churches were encouraged to treat women no differently than men "in all aspects of voluntary and compensatory participation in the Church and society."66 As of 2002, nearly 8,600 of the UMC's 45,000 clergy members were female, which is roughly 19 percent of their ordained Church leadership.67 More important for the future of the denomination, however, is the fact that as of the fall semester of 2001, more than half of all of the Master of Divinity degree students at the thirteen United Methodist seminaries were female.68
The UMC records and expresses its opinion on social issues such as homosexuality in its Book of Discipline. This official policy manual, which is reviewed and revised every four years by Church delegates at the denomination's General Conference, reveals that the UMC has been historically opposed to homosexuality. Examples of statements on homosexuality found in the Book of Discipline include remarks such as, "We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching;"69 "While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church;"70 "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches;"71 and, the UMC Council on Finance and Administration "shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality."72
As is evidenced by the above citations, the UMC has historically articulated clear opposition to homosexuality; yet, from the very earliest years of the denomination a number of groups affiliated with the Church have been petitioning the UMC to change its view on homosexuality. In fact, as of the year 2000, there were at least seven pro-homosexual groups working exclusively within the UMC to persuade the denomination to change its position on issues such as same-sex marriage and the ordination of homosexuals.73 Indeed, these groups have influenced the UMC to such a degree that more than one denominational watcher has concluded that the UMC will soon be forced either to embrace homosexuality or to split.74 For illustrative purposes, several events that demonstrate the impact of the homosexual lobby upon the UMC may be cited. For example, in 1988 the UMC established a committee to study the issue of homosexuality. After nearly four years of study, this twenty-one member committee voted to recommend to the UMC General Conference that the church remove the condemnatory statements on homosexuality from its social policy manual and include the following sentence in its Book of Discipline instead, "The present state of knowledge and insight in the biblical, theological, ethical, biological, psychological, and sociological fields does not provide a satisfactory basis upon which the church can responsibly maintain the condemnation of all homosexual practice."75 This recommendation notwithstanding, the 1992 General Conference voted not to change the denomination's historical position on homosexuality, although more than a quarter of the voting delegates were in favor of adopting the changes proposed by the study committee. A second event that reveals a softening in the UMC's stance on homosexuality is the passage of a resolution at the 1996 General Conference calling for the United States military to remove its ban on homosexuals. This resolution reads, in part, "[The U. S. military] has denied the right of homosexuals to actively serve their country while being honest about who they are. Meanwhile, The United Methodist Church is moving toward accepting all people for who they are… . The U. S. military should not exclude persons from service solely on the basis of sexual orientation."76 Finally, it may be noted that despite the growing number of local UMC churches and regional bishops who are breaking with official denominational policies on issues related to homosexuality,77 at their most recent General Conference in May of 2000, the majority of voting church delegates refused to endorse proposals that would have reinforced the church's historical position on homosexuality as well as fund ministries designed to help individuals who wish to leave the homosexual lifestyle.78
While more could be said about the gradual embrace of homosexuality by the UMC,79 as with the other groups studied thus far in this project, it is not the acceptance of homosexuality itself that is germane to this work, but rather the methodology being employed by the advocates of homosexuality within the UMC. As with the PC(USA) and ELCA, a brief review of denominational literature reveals that there are many ties between the feminist-leaning women's ministry areas of the UMC and the homosexual lobby. For example, many of the leaders of the pro-homosexual organizations working within the UMC are former leaders in the feminist-leaning women's ministry areas of the denomination.80 Additionally, the groups advocating homosexuality within the UMC have made it clear that they fully support the women's ministry arm of the church,81 and even encourage those who wish to implement homosexual-friendly policies in local churches to work through the women's ministry circles in the denomination.82 Furthermore, as with the PC(USA) and ELCA, arguments in favor of embracing homosexuality based upon parallels between women's and homosexual rights abound in the UMC. For example, Methodist minister James M. Wall wrote, "Until recently, women were excluded from receiving ordination in most denominations … . And some church people argue that the exclusion of homosexuals is just as discriminatory as the exclusion of women… . The case could be made that discrimination against the homosexual seeking ordination [in the UMC] is as immoral or illegal as discrimination for reasons of gender."83 Likewise, at the 2000 UMC General Conference, Methodist pastor James Lawson described "the movement for the inclusion of gays and lesbians is a continuation of the civil rights struggles of other groups … [including] women."84 Finally, in a similar manner, former Methodist seminary student David Wesley Perkins observed, "There is a great diversity of hermeneutic regarding the brief passages in the Bible where same biological gender sexual interaction is mentioned… . The same can be said regarding passages … [containing] directives that imply women should be subjugated to men. Since the [1988 UMC] Committee to Study Sexuality acknowledged that some biblical passages ‘are not applicable today,' why did some members of the committee conclude that … passages [that seem to prohibit homosexuality] deserve our assent?"85
Clearly, then, the above citations indicate that the UMC is slowly moving in a direction that is resulting in the gradual embrace of homosexuality by the denomination. It appears that in a similar manner to that of the EWC, PC(USA), and ELCA, some of those within the UMC are beginning to move from a specific egalitarian view of male/female gender roles to a more general egalitarian view of human sexuality.
After surveying the pilgrimage of some members of the EWC, PC(USA), ELCA, and UMC from the endorsement of biblical feminism to the embrace (or at least toleration) of homosexuality, it is evident that the concern expressed by complementarians over a possible connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is indeed warranted. This conclusion becomes even more salient when it is noted that, historically speaking, parachurch groups and denominations who have openly and consistently promoted a complementarian view of gender roles have not had to struggle on a corporate level with issues related to homosexuality. Indeed, a review of modern denominations reveals that it is only when Christian organizations have abandoned the traditional model of male/female gender roles that homosexuality has even become a topic for moral discussion on a church-wide scale.86
While the historical record seems to provide enough information for one to make an a posteriori conclusion that egalitarianism and homosexuality must somehow be intertwined, this supposition is complicated by the fact that not all (perhaps not even most) of the advocates of egalitarianism have endorsed (or will endorse) homosexuality.87 It seems, therefore, that whatever connection exists between these two ostensibly unrelated ideologies, it is neither immediate in manifestation nor requisite in nature. This being true, however, in view of the proceeding historical survey, it seems a reasonable conclusion that the likelihood of an egalitarian view of male/female gender roles leading to the endorsement of homosexuality increases with the passage of time.
The above observations notwithstanding, the question still remains, What is the nature of the connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality? Or, put another way, Why have some who have initially adopted the tenets of biblical feminism later come to endorse homosexuality in the church? Other authors have suggested that there are spiritual,88 philosophical,89 hermeneutical,90 and even political connections between these two ideologies.91 While these connections are likely valid, in the remaining portion of this essay a single characteristic of egalitarianism will be explored that, it is suggested, is the primary reason why some proponents of biblical feminism have been led to endorse homosexuality. This feature, which constitutes a logical connection between these two ideologies, is egalitarianism's minimization of gender distinctions.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines egalitarianism as "the doctrine or condition that asserts the equality of mankind."92 A reading of Men, Women, and Biblical Equality, the cardinal statement of evangelical egalitarian beliefs, reveals that this broad definition of egalitarianism is an accurate summation of biblical feminists' beliefs as they generally hold to the full equality of men and women in essence (or being) as well as in role (or function). Indeed, a foundational tenet of biblical feminism is that differing gender roles were established as a result of, and not prior to, the fall of mankind; or, in the words of Men, Women, and Biblical Equality, "The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and equal partnership… . The rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from the Fall and was therefore not a part of the original created order."93
While evangelical egalitarians do champion the full equality of the sexes, most proponents of this ideology have been careful to note that they are not advocating an androgynous view of humanity, for as egalitarian Rebecca Groothius noted, "The inevitable result of … androgyny … [will] be the complete obliteration of any meaningful distinction between male and female, which will lead inexorably to homosexuality and the breakdown of the family and society."94 Many biblical feminists, then, have wisely asserted that while men and women are fully equal in regard to essence and role, there are physiological, emotional, psychological, and perhaps even intellectual differences between the sexes. For example, biblical feminist Ruth Tucker wrote, "How men and women complement each other intellectually or emotionally is often a contentious issue … . Yet, it is difficult to argue that there are no differences between men and women-be it innate or socially acquired… . Women are typically more outwardly emotional than men.95 Similarly, egalitarian Nicholas Wolterstorff asserted, "[Men and women] have been created and re-created differently. We must not try to obliterate that … we must prize our particularities."96 Likewise, Elaine Storkey observed, "God created people as male and female, and this difference will always be there."97 Ostensibly, therefore, it seems that egalitarians have articulated a position that will allow them to defend the equality of the sexes with regard to essence and gender roles, and yet enable them to resist homosexual arguments built upon an androgynous view of humanity.
A critical weakness of egalitarianism, however, is the fact that it fails to recognize that within the fixed scheme of human sexuality, gender roles both stem from and help to define and inform gender identity. This is precisely the point that Karl Barth was getting at when he wrote that "a man … can only be genuinely human with woman, or … a woman with man."98 In other words, because men and women have distinct gender identities, they have distinct gender roles, which, in turn, help to define and inform their distinct gender identities. In short, the relationship between gender identity and gender roles is reflexive. Although egalitarians claim to recognize differences in gender identity (i.e., they repudiate androgyny), their denial of distinct gender roles-which, ironically, the physiological, emotional, psychological, and intellectual differences that they admit seem to be tailored to support-amounts to a practical denial of differences in gender identity. As Daniel R. Heimbach noted, since biblical feminists deny differences in gender roles, "sexual differences [in gender identity] distinguishing men from women are marginalized to the point of becoming unnecessary or meaningless."99
This practical denial of gender identity becomes problematic for egalitarianism in regard to any morality that rests upon distinctions in gender, such as homosexuality. Heimbach observes:
If gender differences in human sexual identity really do not matter-if in fact what we think are differences [in gender roles] are actually just transitory, cultural, or perhaps even unreal-then the idea of difference based on separate sexual gender identities can sustain no real moral value either. Then the idea that gender-based sexual differences sustain or define any sort of normative standard must be rejected. Thus, it turns out, a way of thinking used by egalitarians to justify opposition to gender roles is shared by advocates of plastic sexuality [e.g., proponents of homosexuality] who use it to deny that heterosexual marriage should be treated as a standard.100
As Heimbach points out, then, although egalitarians do not intend to support homosexuality, their denial of distinct gender roles creates an essentially androgynous view of gender identity that caters to advocates of homosexuality. Indeed, biblical feminist Rebecca Groothius is technically correct in stating, "It does not promote homosexuality to acknowledge that both men and women have basically the same human needs, desires, and range of abilities and vocational callings … Such a view of men and women will not change heterosexuals to homosexuals."101 However, when such a view of gender roles leads to a practical denial of differences in gender identity, the end result is a view of human sexuality that is unable to resist arguments waged by advocates of the progressive homosexual movement.
In conclusion, this essay addressed two main questions; first, "Is there sufficient historical evidence to support complementarians' concern over a possible connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality?" And second, "What is the nature of the link between these two ostensibly unrelated ideologies?" Regarding the first question, which was the focus of this essay, this work surveyed historical evidence from four different groups-the Evangelical Women's Caucus, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church-and concluded that, indeed, there is sufficient evidence to support complementarians' concern regarding a connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality. In fact, the slide from the acceptance of feminist-type arguments to the endorsement of homosexuality currently occurring in some Christian denominations follows a paradigm that is demonstrable in secular culture, as well. In light of the historical record, then, it seems that to deny the presence of this progression would be both irresponsible and irrational.
Regarding the second question that this work briefly considered, it was noted that pinpointing the exact nature of the connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is not an easy task. Indeed, defining the link between these two ideologies is a difficult endeavor because not all who endorse biblical feminism have or will embrace homosexuality. In light of this fact, then, it was suggested that the primary connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is a non-requisite logical connection. While many other links between these two ideologies likely exist (there is great need for further work in these areas), as was explained above, the main reason why some advocates of egalitarianism have been led to endorse homosexuality is that feminist-type arguments so minimize gender identity that once biblical feminism is embraced, it is but a small logical step to accept homosexuality.
1 John Piper and Wayne Grudem, "An Overview of Central Concerns: Questions and Answers," in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991) 60.
2 Ibid., 82, 84. This concern over a possible connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is frequently noted by complementarian authors. For example, in reference to egalitarian doctrine in his overview of the gender roles debate, D. Massimiliano Lorenzini noted, "Without identifying role distinctions between men and women, there is no real reason to oppose homosexuality." D. Massimiliano Lorenzini, "The Role of Women in the Church" (Napa, CA: Frontline Ministries, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://frontlinemin.org/women.asp; Internet. Similarly, when commenting on the complementarian "fear [of] a slippery slope within egalitarianism," Ronald C. Ehlke posed the question, "If, for instance, the prohibitions of Paul regarding female leadership were merely cultural, might not the same be said of his prohibitions regarding homosexuality?" Ehlke, 20. Likewise, Mary Kassian observed, "The Biblical feminist's belief in the evolving, developing nature of revelation with regards to male and female roles poses some difficulty for the interpretation of other Scripture. For if this particular teaching is meant to evolve, it logically follows that other teachings that are now socially unacceptable are likewise changing. Evangelicals could therefore justifiably update Christian doctrine to approve of homosexuality." Mary A. Kassian, The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1992) 210. Additionally, Thomas R. Schreiner wrote that when gender roles are denied, "one of the next steps is to accept lesbianism." Thomas R. Schreiner, "Head Coverings, Prophesies, and the Trinity: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16" in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991) 139.
3 In this work the terms "evangelical feminist," "egalitarian," and "biblical feminist" (and their related cognates) will be used interchangeably. The use of these terms is meant to denote an individual or organization who affirms feminist-type arguments and claims an authoritative view of Christian Scripture.
4 For example, in an online discussion on the "Apologetics Index" list server, egalitarian Rebecca M. Groothuis noted that "the oft-heard claim that to move toward biblical equality (biblical feminism) is to take the first step toward an inevitable slide down the slippery slope to radical feminism, goddess worship, abortion and homosexual rights, and so on … . is another false but highly effective rhetorical effort that trades on the ignorance of the evangelical public." Rebecca M. Groothuis, "Re: Debate on Inclusive Language Translations" (Apologetics Index, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/cpoint1-3.html; Internet. Similarly, Agnieszka Tennant, assistant editor of Christianity Today, wrote that the notion of a connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is a "cheap shot fired by the complementarian[s]," and is "unfair rhetoric." Agnieszka Tennant, "Seahorses, Egalitarians, and Traditional Sex-Role Reversal" (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/128/33.0.html; Internet. Note that Tennant's comments were the result of her misreading of a CBMW news release. See Randy Stinson, "Response to Christianity Today's Dispatch from the CBE Conference" (Louisville, KY: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://cbmw.wpengine.com/news/ctresponse.html; Internet. Likewise, biblical feminist Elaine Storkey classified the notion that egalitarianism leads to homosexuality as "utterly ridiculous." Elaine Storkey, What's Right with Feminism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985) 240.
5 Christians for Biblical Equality, "Statement of Faith" (Minneapolis, MN: Christian for Biblical Equality, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from (http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/about/who_we_are.html; Internet.
6 Robert A. Gagnon, "Are There Universally Valid Sex Precepts? A Critique of Walter Wink's Views on the Bible and Homosexuality," Horizons in Biblical Theology 24 (2002) 72-125; Stanley J. Grenz, Welcoming But Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1988); Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, "To Ask a Better Question: The Heterosexuality-Homosexuality Debate Revisited," Interpretation 51, no. 2 (April 1997) 143-58; William J. Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001).
7 For example, Wayne Grudem, one of the editors of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, noted that "our egalitarian friends within the evangelical world agree that homosexual conduct is prohibited by Scripture." Wayne Grudem, "The Key Issues in the Manhood-Womanhood Controversy, and the Way Forward," in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002) 44. Likewise, when writing about egalitarianism in a news release dated July 7, 2001, Randy Stinson, the executive director of CBMW, noted that "many who advocate women in the pastorate do not affirm homosexuality." Randy Stinson, "‘Mother God' Worship Shocks CBF Attendee" (Louisville, KY: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://cbmw.wpengine.com/news/cbf2001.html; Internet. Similarly, in an article that he wrote on ties between women's ordination and homosexual ordination, Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler emphatically declared, "I am not [emphasis in the original] accusing all proponents of women's ordination of supporting the ordination of homosexuals." R. Albert Mohler, "Women Preachers, Divorce, and a Gay Bishop-What's the Link?" (Salem Communications Corporation, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.crosswalk.com/news/weblogs/mohler/?adate=8/5/2003#1213166; Internet.
8 The movement of some from the endorsement of evangelical feminism to the embrace of homosexuality is recognized by both complementarians and egalitarians. For example, egalitarian Rebecca M. Groothius notes that while "‘homosexual rights' were not linked to the cause of women's rights in early feminism; … efforts have been made by some Christian feminists to argue for homosexuality as part and parcel of evangelical feminism." Rebecca M. Groothuis, Women Caught in the Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994) 46, 118. Likewise, in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, complementarians Piper and Grudem write, "Some evangelicals who once disapproved of homosexuality have been carried by their feminist arguments into approving of faithful homosexual alliances." Piper and Grudem, "An Overview of Central Concerns," 82.
9 Note that the shift from embracing evangelical feminism to the endorsement of homosexuality can also be seen in the writings of a number of individual authors. Examples of those who have made such a move have been reported in a number of other works, and include individuals such as Mary Daly, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Paul Jewitt, Gerald Sheppard, and Karen J. Torjesen. Cf. Piper and Grudem, 82-85 and Kassian, 230, 232, 237-39. Additionally, William E. Mouser, founder of the International Council for Gender Studies, lists several individuals who claim to be evangelical egalitarians and yet are supporters of homosexuality, including Loren L. Johns, Walter Wink, William Herzog, and Rembert S. Truluck. William E. Mouser, "Gays and Egals: A Common Hermeneutical Playbook" (Waxahachie, TX: International Council for Gender Studies, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://cacsi.com/BCMWGaysAndEgals.htm; Internet.
10 Prior to 1990, the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus was known as the Evangelical Women's Caucus. The organization underwent a name change, adding the word "ecumenical" to their name, "in order to reflect the increasingly inclusive nature and the many traditions" of their membership. "How Did EEWC Originate?" (Wichita, KS: EEWC, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.eewc.com/About.htm; Internet.
11 Ibid. It is interesting to note that while the Chicago Declaration does make a brief reference to general societal irresponsibility in the acting out of male/female gender roles, and it does contain a call for mutual submission, there is no reference to the "inferior status of women" in the document. See Ronald J. Sider, ed., The Chicago Declaration (Carol Stream, IL: Creation House, 1974).
12 Kathleen E. Corley and Karen J. Torjesen, "Sexuality, Hierarchy and Evangelicalism," TSF Bulletin (Mar.-Apr. 1987) 23.
13 Beth Spring, "Gay Rights Resolution Divides Membership of Evangelical Women's Caucus," Christianity Today 30, 3 October 1986, 40-41. Note that Corley and Torjesen report the vote as 80-16-25. Corley and Torjesen, 23. Efforts by this author to get the exact vote tally from the EEWC were unsuccessful.
14 Spring, 43.
15 "The History of CBE," (Minneapolis, MN: Christians for Biblical Equality, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/about/who_we_are.html; Internet. Concerning CBE's Statement of Faith, William D. Aleshire made the following observation: "It is interesting to note that while this statement affirms a traditional biblical understanding on family and marriage, it does not clearly define the group's views on homosexuality. Since the CBE split off from the EWC because of that organization's growing support for lesbians, it seems logical that you could find some document or statement that explains why they distanced themselves." William D. Aleshire, "The Slope of Relativistic Theology," unpublished paper (Wake Forest, NC: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2003) 6-7. Piper and Grudem make a similar observation regarding the seeming ambiguity in CBE's declaration, Men, Women, and Biblical Equality. In regard to CBE's teaching of the "full equality of men and women in Creation and in Redemption," Piper and Grudem note, "In this day of increasing homosexual demands for marital rights, we need to say loudly and clearly that men are not equal with women personally or physically as candidates for the spouses of men. Men and women are not equal when they stand before a man as a possible marriage partner." Piper and Grudem, "Charity, Clarity, and Hope: The Controversy and the Cause of Christ" 407.
16 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches 2003 (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003) 11.
17 "Presbyterian 101: A General Guide to the Facts About the PCUSA" (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Church [USA], accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.pcusa.org/101/101-women/htm; Internet.
18 "Women's Ministries" (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Church [USA], accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.pcusa.org/women/history.htm; Internet.
19 "Churchwide Personnel Services: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Church [USA], accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.pcusa.org/cps/statistics.htm; Internet. According to statistics available from the aforementioned denominational webpage, in 2001, the PC(USA) had 21,150 ordained ministers of Word and Sacrament, 4,015 of whom were women. In 1990, there were 20,338 ordained ministers of Word and Sacrament, 2,257 of whom were women.
20 These organizations include: the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, the Office of Womens Advocacy, the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns, as well as numerous synod and presbytery level organizations. More information about these groups and their activities is available from the Women's Ministries Program Area of the denominational website. Cf. http://www.pcusa.org/women/index.htm.
21 Question 87 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, "Can those who do not turn to God from their ungrateful, impenitent life be saved?" The answer given is, "Certainly not! Scripture says, ‘Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers of money or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God' (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9)." The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): Part I, Book of Confessions (Louisville, KY: The Office of the General Assembly, 2003) 4.087.
22 Minutes of the 190th General Assembly (1978), United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 261.
23 Minutes of the 120th General Assembly (1980), Presbyterian Church in the United States 213.
24 Minutes of the 203rd General Assembly (1991), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 395.
26 Minutes of the 188th General Assembly (1976), United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 111-12.
27 Minutes of the 205th General Assembly (1993), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 322.
28 Minutes of the 190th General Assembly (1978), United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 264.
29 Minutes of the 199th General Assembly (1987), United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 776.
30 The growing tolerance of homosexuality among PC(USA) members is evident as in 1999-2000 the denomination voted to join the Churches Uniting in Christ movement. This confederation of churches holds nine "marks of churches," the seventh of which is an "intentional commitment to promote unity with wholeness and to oppose all marginalization and exclusion in church and society based upon such things as race, age, gender, forms of disability, sexual orientation, and class." The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) D-7. Additionally, in 2001 the majority of presbyteries (100 out of 173) did not affirm an amendment to the denominational constitution that would have banned PC(USA) ministers from performing same-sex unions. Cf., "PCUSA Vote Allows Same-Sex Unions," Christian Century 118, no. 10 (Mar. 2001) 11-12. The amendment (known as "Amendment O") read: "Scripture and our confessions teach that God's intention for all people is to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness. Church property shall not be used for, and church officers shall not take part in conducting, any ceremony or event that pronounces blessing of God upon any relationship that is inconsistent with God's intention as expressed in the preceding sentence." "Daily Presbyterian News" (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Church [USA], accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://presbyweb.com/VotesOnA-B_O.html; Internet. Additionally, an August 2000 survey by the Presbyterian Panel, the research arm of the PC(USA), found that within the denomination a majority of specialized clergy (61%), four in ten pastors (41%), and around three in ten members (28%) agree with the statement that "homosexuality should be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle." Furthermore, the same survey reported that a majority of PC(USA) pastors (51%) and specialized clergy (67%) agree with the statement that "gay partners who make a legal commitment to each other should be entitled to the same rights and benefits as couples in traditional marriages." "Ministries to Families and Same-Sex Issues in the PC(USA)" (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Church [USA], accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.pcusa.org/research/panel/family.htm; Internet.
31 These two groups are the Covenant Network of Presbyterians (formed in 1997) and the More Light Presbyterians (formed in 1998 by the merger of Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns and More Light Churches Network).
32 For additional information regarding the homosexuality debate in the PC(USA), see Richard G. Hutcheson and Peggy L. Shriver, The Divided Church: Moving Liberals and Conservatives from Diatribe to Dialogue (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999) 93-99; Clifton Kirpatrick and William Hopper, Jr., What Unites Presbyterians: Common Ground for Troubled Times (Louisville, KY: Geneva, 1997) 1-164; Jack Rogers, Claiming the Center: Churches and Conflicting Worldviews (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1995) 127-35; Jeffrey S. Siker, Homosexuality and the Church: Both Sides of the Debate (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1994) 3-194; and James K. Wellman, ed., "Religious Organizational Identity and Homosexual Ordination: A Case Study of the Presbyterian Church, USA," Review of Religious Research 41 (Dec 1999) 184-274.
33 Minutes of the 210th General Assembly (1998), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Commissioner's Resolution 98-10.
34 Jim Tiefenthal, "Women Criticized for Existing: ACWC Chair Looks Ahead to 213th GA Issues" (Rochester, NY: That All May Freely Serve, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.tamfs.org/new/ga213/acwcSizoo.asp; Internet.
36 Waveney Ann Moore, "A Church That Doesn't Just Preach Tolerance," (Tampa Bay, FL: St. Petersburg Times, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.sptimes.com/2002/06/22/NorthPinellas/
37 Deb Price, "Presbyterians Push Church to Embrace Gays," (Detroit, MI: The Detroit News, accessed 22 Sept. 2003); available from http://detnews.com/2001/editorial/0106/25/a09-240016.htm.
38 Bruce Hahne, Turning Point: The Need to Escalate the Struggle for LGBT Equality within the PCUSA (Palo Alto, CA: New Visions Project, 2002) 2, 4, 6.
39 Sylvia Thorson-Smith, "Enlarging Human Freedom: A Feminist View," in The Sexuality Debate in North American Churches, 1988-1995: Controversies, Unresolved Issues, Future Prospects (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1995) 190.
40 This gradual embrace of homosexuality by the PC(USA) can also be documented by the growing number of local synods, presbyteries, and local churches that have taken actions-contrary to current denominational doctrine-to affirm homosexuality. For example, see "‘More Light' Synod OK, rules PCUSA Court" Christian Century 110, no. 20 (June 30-July 7, 1993) 667; "Presbyterian Body OK's Same-Sex Unions" Christian Century 116, no. 6 (Feb. 24, 1999) 210; and Dan Klepal, "Rebuke Doesn't Stop Pastor: 2 Women Wed at His Church," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 May 2003, n.p.
41 National Council 11.
42 John E. Lynch, "Ordination of Women: Protestant Experience in Ecumenical Perspective" Journal of Ecumenical Studies 12, no. 2 (Spring 1975) 186.
43 The qualifications for ordination into the ministry in the ELCA constitution read, "An ordained minister of this church shall be a person whose commitment to Christ, soundness in the faith, aptness to preach, teach, and witness, and educational qualifications have been examined and approved in the manner prescribed in the documents of this church; who has been properly called and ordained; who accepts and adheres to the Confession of Faith of this church; who is diligent and faithful in the exercise of the ministry; and whose life and conduct are above reproach. An ordained minister shall comply with the constitution of this church." Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 7.22. The ELCA constitution may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001).
44 Fact Sheet about Ordained Women, ELCA Office of the Secretary, August 2002. As of August 1, 2002, 2,707 of the 17,693 total (active and retired) ELCA clergy were women (15.3%). In 1991, only 8% of the total ELCA were women.
45 For more information on the Commission for Women and the Women of the ELCA and their ministries, see the brochure entitled, Commission for Women-Women of the ELCA (Chicago, IL: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, n.d.). See, also, the women's ministry areas of the denominational website (www.elca.org/wo).
46 The LCA adopted a social statement entitled "Sex, Marriage, and Family" at its fifth biennial convention held between June 25-July 2, 1970. This statement noted, "Scientific research has not been able to provide conclusive evidence regarding the causes of homosexuality. Nevertheless, homosexuality is viewed biblically as a departure from the heterosexual structure of God's creation… . However, they [i.e., homosexuals] are often the special and undeserving victims of prejudice and discrimination in law, law enforcement, cultural mores, and congregational life. In relation to this area of concern, the sexual behavior of freely consenting adults in private is not an appropriate subject for legislation or police action. It is essential to see such persons as entitled to understanding and justice in the church and community." Siker, 197. The ALC approved a similar policy entitled "Human Sexuality and Sexual Behavior" at its tenth general convention in October of 1980. This statement reads, "We believe it appropriate to distinguish between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. Persons who do not practice their homosexual erotic preference do not violate our understanding of Christian sexual behavior… . While we see no scriptural rationale for revising the church's traditional teaching that homosexual erotic behavior violates God's intent, we nonetheless remain open to the possibility of new biblical and theological insights… . Members of congregations of The American Lutheran Church [ought] to review their attitudes, words, and actions regarding homosexuality. Christians need to be more understanding and more sensitive to life as experienced by those who are homosexual. They need to take leadership roles in changing public opinion, civil laws, and prevailing practices that deny justice and opportunity to any persons." Ibid., 198-99.
47 Vision and Expectations: Ordained Ministers in the ELCA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Division for Ministry (1990) 8. The ELCA has a companion statement for commissioned ministers in which it similarly states, "Commissioned ministers who are homosexual in their self-understanding are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships." Vision and Expectations: Commissioned Associates in Ministry, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Division for Ministry (1993) 5.
48 Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline of Ordained Ministers, Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1989) 1. Similarly, in regard to other ministers within the ELCA, the church has declared, "Practicing homosexual persons are precluded from the rostered ministries of this church." Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline of Associates in Ministry, Members of the Deaconess Community, and Diaconal Ministers, Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1993) 1.
49 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Conference of Bishops, CB93.10.25 (1993).
50 H. George Anderson and Charles S. Maahs, "An Open Letter from the Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: A Word of Welcome to Gays and Lesbians," 22 March 1996.
51 Other actions taken by divisions of the ELCA that communicate the church's position on homosexuality include Church Council Actions CC93.3.37 (1993), CC00.11.67 (2000), CC00.11.68 (2000), Assembly Actions CA91.7.51 (1991), CA93.6.12 (1993), CA95.6.27 (1995), CA95.6.59 (1995), CA95.7.72 (1995), CA95.7.73 (1995), CA97.6.28 (1997), CA97.6.29 (1997), CA99.06.27 (1999), CA99.06.57 (1999), and the ELCA Department of Studies, Division for Church in Society, "A Message on Sexuality: Some Common Convictions" (Nov. 9, 1996).
52 Five pro-homosexual groups have come together in the Lutheran Alliance for Full Participation. These groups include The Network for Inclusive Vision, Lutherans Concerned/North America (founded in 1974), Wingspan (founded in 1982), Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (founded in 1989), and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (founded in 1993).
53 Cf. "Gay Candidate Rejected," Christian Century 105, no. 22 (July 20-27, 1988) 666.
54 Cf. "Ban on Gay Clergy Defied," Christian Century 106, no. 34 (Nov. 15, 1989) 1041; "Church Defies Ruling on Gay Pastor," Christian Century 111, no. 9 (Mar. 16, 1994) 274; "Lutherans Defrock Homosexual Cleric," Christian Century 115, no. 7 (Mar. 4, 1998) 226; and "Ordained Against the Rules," Christian Century 118, no. 16 (May 16, 2001) 7-8.
55 "Draft Affirms Homosexual Unions," Christianity Today 37, no. 22, 22 November 1993, 43. For more on the content of this proposed social statement, as well as the internal controversies surrounding it, see David Neff, "How Lutherans Justify Sex: An ELCA Commission Looked Immorality in the Eye and Called it Sin. So Why Did They Blink When They Came to Homosexuality?" Christianity Today 37, 13 December 1993, 16-17; "Chilstrom: Read the Sexuality Report," Christian Century 110, no. 33 (Nov. 17-24, 1993) 1154; "More Reaction to ELCA Sexuality Report," Christian Century 110, no. 37 (Dec. 22-29, 1993) 1295; and "Lutherans Abandon Sexuality Study," Christian Century 111, no. 31 (Nov. 2, 1994) 1007-8.
56 At their 2001 Churchwide Assembly, the voting attendees of ELCA took steps to establish a committee to produce an official social statement on homosexuality to be presented at the 2005 Churchwide Assembly for denominational approval or disapproval (cf. Assembly Actions CA01.06.28, CA01.06.36, and CA01.06.45). This 1.2 million dollar five-year study is being directed by James M. Childs, theology and ethics professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. For more information on the study and its progress as of 2003, see "ELCA Names Director of Sexuality Study," Christian Century 119, no. 3 (Jan. 30-Feb. 6, 2003) 15; and James M. Childs, "Progress Report ELCA Studies on Sexuality" (Chicago, IL: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/pdf/spring2003churchcouncilreport.pdf; Internet.
57 For more information on homosexuality and the ELCA, see Nancy K. Grush, The Position of the ELCA on the Ordination of Homosexual Persons (Gettysburg, PA: Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, 2002); Karen L. Bloomquest, "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: The Politics of Sex and Power in the Churches," in The Sexuality Debate in North American Churches, 1988-1995: Controversies, Unresolved Issues, and Future Prospects, ed. John J. Carey (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1995), 147-67; and Christian Batalden Scharen, Married in the Sight of God: Theology, Ethics, and Church Debates Over Homosexuality (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000) 103-25.
58 R. L. DeJaynes, Come Out From Among Them: A Journey Out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Decatur, IL: Johann Gerhard Institute, 1996) 27.
59 "Lutherans Hail, Dismiss, Sexuality Task Force," Christian Century 111, no. 12 (Apr. 13, 1994) 377.
60 "ELCA Women Offer RIC Workshop," ADVENT (Spring 2001) 2. For more information on the establishment of an official relationship between the ELCA and LC/NA, see "ELCA Establishes Formal Relationship with LC/NA" (Chicago, IL: Lutherans Concerned/North America, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://lcna.org/lcna_news/elca_relationship.shtm; Internet; and "ELCA Establishes Formal Relationship with LC/NA," CONCORD (Dec. 2002) 12.
61 "Shared Conversations: A Study Day and Workshop using Shared Congregational Conversation around Homosexuality Study Resource," conference brochure, Cleveland Heights, OH: Northeastern Ohio Synod, ELCA Task Force on Ministry with People who are Gay or Lesbian, 2002. Information about this conference was also posted at http://lcna.org/lcna_news/oct26_study_day.shtm. Note that the ELCA has frequently sponsored workshops that have included pro-homosexual speakers. For example, Wilma Mankiller, a self-described radical feminist, was a keynote speaker at the 1996 annual meeting of the Women of the ELCA. DeJaynes, 28.
62 For another example of the connecting of the homosexual rights movement with other liberation movements, see the article by lesbian Wartburg Theological Seminary professor Gwen Sayler entitled "My Journey Isn't Over," Lutheran Woman Today (May 2001), n.p. Additionally, this connection can be documented in a special report prepared by the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America, a group of which the Canadian branch of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is a part. This report notes, "After many years of struggle by women's organizations to raise awareness about violations against women, there is now a widespread consensus in the international community that women's rights are human rights. In the same way, the courageous efforts of lesbian and gay rights groups in many parts of the world have brought about a growing recognition that violations against lesbians and gay men are a fundamental human rights issue." Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America, Violence Unveiled: Repression Against Lesbians and Gay Men in Latin America (Toronto, Canada: ICCHRLA, 1996) 32.
63 National Council, 11. Note that the Methodist Church was formed in 1939 by the merger of the three historical North American branches of Methodism-the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church. The Evangelical United Brethren Church was formed in 1946 by the joining of the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, both of whom trace their beginnings to the eighteenth century Methodist revivals in Pennsylvania.
64 Cf. Mary A. Dougherty, "The Methodist Deaconess: A Case of Religious Feminism," Methodist History 21, (Jan 1983) 90-98; Nancy A. Hardesty, "Women in the Holiness Movement: Feminism in the Evangelical Tradition," in Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions, ed. Rosemary Ruether and Eleanor McLaughlin (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979) 225-54; and Norma T. Mitchell, "From Social to Radical Feminism: A Survey of Emerging Diversity in Methodist Women's Organizations, 1869-1974," Methodist History 13 (April 1975) 21-44. Additionally, it is interesting to note that in 1998, one of the largest churches in the UMC-First United Methodist Church, Marietta, Georgia-began withholding funds from Churchwide causes due to "the pervasive influence that radical feminist theology has had on United Methodism." Alice Smith, "Large United Methodist Church in Georgia ‘Redirects' Funds from Churchwide Causes" (Nashville, TN: United Methodist News Service, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://umns.umc.org/98/mar/183t.htm; Internet.
65 Barbara B. Troxell, "Ordination of Women in the United Methodist Tradition," Methodist History 37 (Jan. 1999) 122-23. For additional historical information about women's ministries and ordination in the Methodist tradition, see Rosemary S. Keller, "Women and the Nature of Ministry in the United Methodist Tradition," Methodist History 22 (Jan. 1984) 99-114; and Jonathan Cooney, "Maintaining the Tradition: Women Elders and the Ordination of Women in the Evangelical United Brethren Church," Methodist History 27 (Oct 1988) 25-35.
66 The full "Rights of Women" section of the UMC constitution reads, "We affirm women and men to be equal in every aspect of their common life. We therefore urge that every effort be made to eliminate sex-role stereotypes in activity and portrayal of family life and in all aspects of voluntary and compensatory participation in the Church and society. We affirm the right of women to equal treatment in employment, responsibility, promotion, and compensation. We affirm the importance of women in decision-making positions at all levels of Church life and urge such bodies to guarantee their presence through policies of employment and recruitment. We support affirmative action as one method of addressing the inequalities and discriminatory practices within our Church and society. We urge employers of persons in dual career families, both in the Church and society, to apply proper consideration of both parties when relocation is considered." United Methodist Church, Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (Nashville, TN: United Methodist Publishing House, 1968-) par. 162F.
67 UMC General Council on Finance and Administration, "Clergy Membership, 2002 Gender" (Evanston, IL: UMC, 2002). Note that the UMC classifies six categories of ordained Church workers as official clergy: Elders in Full Connection, Deacons in Full Connection, Probationary Members [of the clergy], Associate Members [of the clergy], Full-time Local Pastors Appointed to Local Churches, and Part-time Local Pastors Appointed to Local Churches.
68 The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, The United Methodist Church, "Moving Toward General Conference 2000 … Women in the UMC: How Far Have We Come?" (Evanston, IL: The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women: United Methodist Church, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://gcsrw.org/news/spring2000/movingtowardgc2000.html; Internet. Figures that support this conclusion may be obtained from Association of Theological Schools (http://www.ats.edu).
69 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, Social Principles, par. 161G.
70 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, par. 304.3. Note that in a footnote the Book of Discipline defines a self-avowed practicing homosexual as "a person [who] openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual." Ibid.
71 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, Social Principles, par. 65C.
72 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, par. 806.9.
73 These groups include Affirmation (founded in 1975 and formerly called the United Methodist Gay Caucus and Gay United Methodists) Shalom Ministries (founded 1993) the Reconciling Ministries Network (founded in 1994 and formerly called the Reconciling Congregations Program) MoSAIC-Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church (founded 1996) CORNET-The Covenant Relationships Network (founded 1997) Parents Reconciling Network (founded 1999) and United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (founded 2000).
74 Cf. "Homosexuals Consider Splitting from the UMC," Christian Century 110, no. 5 (Feb. 17, 1993) 167; and B. A. Robinson, "The United Methodist Church and Homosexuality: An Overview" (Watertown, NY: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_umc4.htm; Internet.
75 Jane Hull Harvey, "Struggle for Recognition of Personal Worth: General Conference Commends Materials on Homosexuality for Church Study but Maintains Discipline Statements," Christian Social Action (June 1992) 10. For additional information on the United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality and their report, see, "UMC on Homosexuality," Christian Century 108, no. 9 (Mar. 13, 1991) 289-90; and "Wavering on Homosexuality," Christian Century 108, no. 25 (Sept. 4-11, 1991) 800.
76 J. Richard Peck and Erik Alsgaard, eds., The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 2000. (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 2000) 160.
77 Examples of UMC clergy disobeying official church policy abound. For example, see "‘Good News' Backs Efforts to Change Gays" Christian Century 116, no. 7 (Mar. 3, 1999) 241-42; "Bishop Asked to Resign," Christian Century 100, no. 6 (Mar. 2, 1983) 176; "Powers Won't Speak on Gay Issues," Christian Century 113, no. 3 (Jan. 24, 1996) 70-71; "UMC Bishop Will Abide by Church's Decision," Christian Century 115, no. 24 (Sept. 9-16, 1998) 815; "UMC Bishop Rejects Gay Union Liturgies," Christian Century 109, no. 30 (Oct. 21, 1992) 928-29; "UMC Pastors Launch Gay Rights Campaign," Christian Century 114, no. 4 (Jan. 29, 1997) 93-94; and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, "Human Rights and the Golden Rule," Christianity and Crisis (Nov. 9, 1987) 383-85.
78 Cf. Jody Veenker, "Holding the Middle Groud" Christianity Today 44, no. 7, 12 June 12 2000, 17; Jean Caffey Lyles, "At the UMC General Conference: Watershed in Cleveland," Christian Century 117, no. 17 (May 24-31, 2000) 590-91.
79 For additional general information about the acceptance of homosexuality within the UMC, see Tex Sample and Amy E. DeLong, eds., The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality (Nashville: Abingdon, 2000) 15-194; James R. Wood, Where the Spirit Leads: The Evolving Views of United Methodists on Homosexuality (Nashville: Abingdon, 2000) 9-135; and James R. Wood and Jon P. Bloch, "The Role of Church Assemblies in Building a Civil Society: The Case of the United Methodist General Conference's Debate on Homosexuality," Sociology and Religion 56 (Summer 1995) 121-36.
80 For example, a survey of the board of directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network-the largest of the UMC related homosexual advocacy groups-reveals that its members include Inelle Cox Bagwell, former director of the Women's Ministry Division of the UMC, and Judith Craig, a former leader in the UMC General Council on the Status and Role of Women and the first woman ever to deliver the opening episcopal address at a UMC General Conference. Cf. "New Board Members 2003," Katalyst (Winter 2003) 9; and Steve Rabey, "United Methodists Retain Ban on Homosexual Ordinations," Christianity Today 40, 17 June 1996, 58-59.
81 Concerning their plans for the UMC General Conference in 2004, the Parents Reconciling Network noted, "We will be there to support the Women's Division … as they are targeted by the same people who have marginalized our [homosexual] children at past General Conferences." "It's My Church Too!" Katalyst (Spring 2003) 4.
82 In a handout produced by the Reconciling Congregation Program entitled "How to Become a Reconciling Congregation," this homosexual advocacy group notes, "If your congregation has a large membership or a complex [ministry] program, be sure to pursue dialogue with all the identifiable groups within the church who are willing to talk [about homosexuality]. Especially try to reach the UMC Women's circles … . Identify those persons who can address the biblical and theological questions involved [about homosexuality], and have them reach out to those groups with whom they have credibility." "How to Become a Reconciling Congregation" (Chicago, IL: Reconciling Ministries Network, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.rmnetwork.org/papers/resource2.pdf; Internet.
83 James M. Wall "Methodists Face the Homosexual Issue," Christian Century 92, no. 9 (Mar. 12, 1975) 243.
84 Tim Tanton, "Bishop, 180 Others Arrested in Protest Over Church's Gay Policies" (Nashville, TN: United Methodist News Service, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://umns.umc.org/gc2000news/stories/gc050.htm; Internet. Although not in favor of homosexuality himself, after the 1996 UMC General Conference Methodist pastor James V. Heidinger similarly observed that "many United Methodist leaders speak as if change in our United Methodist standards on homosexuality is inevitable, likening this issue to the civil and women's rights struggles." Thomas S. McAnally, "‘Good News' Says Push to Accept Homosexual Practice Threatens to Split United Methodist Church" (Nashville, TN: United Methodist News Service, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://umns.umc.org/news97/may/tsplit.htm; Internet.
85 David Wesley Perkins, "Taking the ‘Plank' Out of Our Eyes," Christian Social Action (May 1988) 15.
86 In addition to the denominations previously mentioned in this essay-the Presbyterian Church (USA) the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church-the following Christian groups have, likewise, departed from traditional views of male/female gender roles and are currently struggling with issues related to the acceptance of homosexuality: the Anglican Church of Canada, the Christian Reformed Church, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Disciples of Christ (the Christian Church) the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, and the Unity Church.
87 In her study of homosexuality and evangelical feminism, feminist Sheila Hassell Hughes offers three reasons why many egalitarians have been hesitant to endorse homosexuality. These are (1) a fear of rejection by conservative denominations and organizations, (2) a confusion of real lesbianism with "political lesbianism," and (3) viewing lesbianism as the new "contamination"-the issue associated with too much radicalness and compromise. Sheila Hassell Hughes, "Homosexuality and Group Boundaries in Contemporary Evangelical Perspective," Quarterly Review 14 (Summer 1994) 155-56.
88 Peter Jones has done extensive work into the spiritual connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality. For example, in his book Spirit Wars Jones writes, "The [current spiritual] revolution is about the personal power to be autonomous… . [This] leads some liberal Christians to denounce the ‘sin of heterosexism.' … Egalitarianism is the first step to autonomous individualism just as the relativization of sexual differences is the first step to gender-confusion." Peter Jones, Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America (Mukilteo, WA: WinePress Publishing, 1997) 179. See, also, Peter Jones, "Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43, no. 3 (Sept. 2000) 443-69. Daniel R. Heimbach, too, has written about the spiritual connection between feminism and homosexuality. For example, in his article, "The Unchangeable Difference: Eternally Fixed Sexual Identity for an Age of Plastic Sexuality," Heimbach notes, "Any ethic [such as egalitarianism or homosexuality] based upon the idea of plastic sexuality must naturally despise the notion of complementary difference in sexual union; and it must ridicule evidence that good might result from cooperation between fixed differences in sexual identity… . Ultimately the sort of moral thinking that arises from a plastic notion of human sexual identity must be characterized by intentional, self-conscious rebellion against God." Daniel R. Heimbach, "The Unchangeable Difference: Eternally Fixed Sexual Identity for an Age of Plastic Sexuality" in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem (Wheaton: Crossway, 2002) 278.
89 In several of his works, well-known apologist Francis Schaeffer identified a philosophical tie between feminism and homosexuality. For example, in his inaugural text The God Who is There, Schaeffer noted, "Some forms of homosexuality today are of a similar nature, in that they are not just homosexuality but a philosophic expression. One must have understanding for the real homophile's problem. But much modern homosexuality is an expression of the current denial of antithesis. It has led in this case to an obliteration of the distinction between man and woman. So the male and female as complementary partners are finished. This is a form of homosexuality which is part of the movement below the line of despair. In much of modern thinking, all antithesis and all the order of God's creation is to be fought against-including male-female distinctions." Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1968) 39. Likewise, in his final book The Great Evangelical Disaster, Schaeffer wrote, "The [philosophic] idea of absolute, autonomous freedom from God's boundaries flows into the idea of equality without distinction, which flows into the denial of what it truly means to be male and female, which flows into abortion and homosexuality, and the destruction of the home and the family, and ultimately the destruction of our culture." Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1984) 136.
90 Perhaps the most oft-mentioned connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality is their hermeneutical similarities. For example, Albert Mohler wrote, "I am insisting that the basic hermeneutical approach (method of interpreting the Scriptures) behind these [feminist and homosexual] arguments [for ordination] has a common core-a relativizing of prohibitive biblical texts in the name of ‘liberation,' whether of women … or of homosexuals." Mohler, Internet. See, also, Mouser, Internet and Jefferis Kent Peterson, "Feminism, Homosexuality, and Hermeneutics" (Butler, PA: Scholar's Corner, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.scholarscorner.com/Critical/Feminist.html; Internet. For an excellent analysis of egalitarian hermeneutics, see Paul W. Felix, "The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism," in Evangelical Hermeneutics, ed. Robert L. Thomas (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002) 389-423, which also appears in this issue of JBMW. For an example of a self-described "evangelical homosexual" using egalitarian hermeneutics to support homosexuality, see Ralph Blair, "One Foolishness or Another: The Gospel and Foolish Galatians, Gays and Lesbians" (New York: Evangelicals Concerned, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.ecinc.org/foolishnes.htm; Internet; and William Richard Kremer, "Homosexuality and Hermeneutic: Romans 1:24-32" (Charlotte, NC: St. John's Baptist Church, accessed 25 Aug. 2003); available from http://www.stjohnsbaptistchurch.org; Internet.
91 In her book What's Right with Feminism Elaine Storkey notes that there are political aspects to both feminism and homosexuality (although most evangelical egalitarians would deny a de facto connection with political feminism). Indeed, Storkey notes that "to be a lesbian is thus the most personal and political stand a radical feminist can make." Storkey, What's Right with Feminism 106. Additionally, Shelia Hassell Hughes has noted that the overt political nature of lesbianism may be one of the reasons why some (but not all) evangelical egalitarians have been hesitant to endorse homosexuality. Hughes, 155-56. Note, also, the connection that many of those in the EWC, PC(USA) ELCA and UMC, previously cited in this work, made between women's rights, homosexual rights, and civil rights-all of which are seen to be political issues and are currently manifest in the political arena.
92 The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. (1989) s.v. "Egalitarian."
93 Christians for Biblical Equality, Men, Women and Biblical Equality (Minneapolis: Christians for Biblical Equality, 1989) par. 1, par. 5.
94 Groothius, Women Caught in the Conflict 140.
95 Ruth A. Tucker, Women in the Maze: Questions and Answers on Biblical Equality (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992) 220-21.
96 Nicholas Wolterstorff, "Between the Times," Reformed Journal 40 (Dec. 1990) 20.
97 Storkey, What's Right with Feminism 178.
98 CD III/4, 166. Corley and Torjesen similarly note, "The relationship between man and woman is not an interchangeable one; they have different natures. One is created to stimulate, lead and inspire, and the other to follow. Thus they cannot be who they are except in relationship to each other-male and female." Corley and Torjesen, 25. Cf. CD III/4, 170-71.
99 Heimbach 288
100 Ibid. 288-89
101 Groothius 143.
The article above incorrectly identified David Wesley Perkins as a Methodist seminary student who published "Taking the ‘Plank' Our of Our Eyes" in the 1988 edition of Christian Social Action. Mr. Perkins was in fact a seminary student at Union Theological Seminary, which is not a Methodist school. His article appeared in 1998 , not 1988.
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